Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Technology Tuesday: Virtual Field Trips for 2nd Grade

Last week I talked about the Virtual Fields trips I learned about at TCEA including the Expeditions app that had teacher-led tours.  My 2nd graders are going to be researching Landmarks and Symbols and this was a perfect opportunity to try out this engaging activity.  Unfortunately, the Expeditions app didn't work right for me. I could never get the students connected to my teacher tour. So onto Plan B.

I used google maps to look up the places I wanted the students to visit.

By picking up the little yellow guy in the bottom right corner and dropping him on any of the blue dots that show up on the map you can drop right into a 360 view of that area.  

Once you drop him the screen will change to the 360 view.  

Then just copy the URL and use that for the students.  I put mine on our libguide, but you could make a google doc or whatever to share with the students. 

Our students had such a fabulous time "visiting" these places.  I loved hearing their excitement as they stood under the Washington Monument and looked up or stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon and looked down. 

After about 30 minutes of exploring, I called them to the carpet and projected some of the places on the Expedition App that I couldn't capture using Google maps.

This was such an engaging way to get them excited about the research that was coming up. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017


Saturday, one of my teachers, Kandra Overturf (@kandrarene) and I attended #EdCampNavasota (3 hours away from San Antonio) at Webb Elementary, the campus of Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd).  A few of my other twitter heros were there as well... Aaron Hogan, Aaron Marvel, Brent Clarkson and Tom Spall. And I met some great new educators to follow Cassie Reynolds, Stephanie Ryon and Jeremy Stewart to name a few.

Why did we leave Friday night and give up a Saturday for this? We are both huge fan girls of TechNinjaTodd and wanted to see in person the kind of learning that takes place on his campus.
But also we wanted to experience another morning of connecting and learning EdCamp style and put some faces to our PLN.  If you haven't experienced an EdCamp before, it is truly a different kind of professional development. There is not ONE person leading the pd.  It is a collective effort among the participants.

 It starts with people writing down topics or questions that they want to learning about on post-it notes and sticking them on a big board, grouping like topic together.  Yellow post-it notes were for topics and pink post-it notes were people who felt comfortable discussing a particualr topic.
Then the organizers of the EdCamp organize the topics and assign a "moderator" just to get the conversation started.  

This is what our sessions looked like.  

The problem comes when there are two (or three) sessions at the same time that you want to be at... Kandra and I split up for a couple and took notes in a shared google folder so we could essentially be in two places at once.  Three was a little more difficult. The great thing was that people were sharing out their learning on the hastag so all I had to do was follow the hastag to pick up some of the great ideas.  

I picked up a couple of really great ideas from the student motivation and campus culture sessions that I am going to take back to my campus to share.  I also got a little better idea of how I might use snapchat or instagram with my students.  One of the best ideas I heard was about Twitter Moments.  Aaron Hogan shared about that in the Socail Media session and it was an eye-opener for everyone in the room.  Aaron blogged about moments here.  And here is an example of a quick one that I put together while he was explaning.  #EdCampNavasota Moment.  What a great way to capture and tell the story of a school, classroom or in my case library.  

When we were leaving Saturday, Kandra said "Well, that was great.  We can check that off our bucket list."  Then today I get this tweet...

My reply..
Why keep all this great learning to ourselves... Hoping some others will join us at #EdCampKaty.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reflections from TCEA17

I was fortunate to spend 3 days last week at the TCEA conference in Austin, Texas.  19 hours of amazing presentations and that doesn't count the conversations standing in the hallway waiting in line for a session.  Conferences like these are always so overwhelming with information that it takes me a few days to process all that I have heard and learned about.  There was not one session this year that I thought was better than all the others.  Rather every session that I went to offered me something I could take back to my campus.

Here are a few of my take-aways.

Sphero - Emily Felker (@emfelker) did a great job of introducing Sphero as an educational tool instead of just a toy to drive around the library.  While sitting in the session I texted one of my 2nd grade teachers with an idea for using sphero with place value that Emily shared.  She also introduced me to making light trails by using the slomo feature on a camera to capture sphero's light in a dark room.

Sharing Student Work With Each Other-  Google slides now has a Q&A option when you are in the presenter mode where students can ask questions during the presentation, but they can also post work there when finished for classmates to look at.  The same could be done with Padlet.  I have used padlet as a brainstorming tool, but never thought of it as a place to house student projects all in one place.  

Google Virtual Reality Tools - Kelly Fitzgerald (@LISDTechie) led an engaging session on google virtual reality 
Geoguesser - shows a scene from somehwhere in the world and then you try to guess where it it based on landscape, signs, terrain, etc
Google Art Projects - can see a piece of art work and zoom in on the brush strokes and in some cases where it is hanging in the museum to see other art work around it.  (CAUTION... Where there is art there can be inappropriate items for elementary)
Google Street View - can drop into places around the world to see 360 degree view of where you land.  Great for landmarks and ecosystems.

Personalized PD - a panel session with 4 amazing leaders Todd Neslone (@TechNinjaTodd), Jessica Torres(Owl_b_TorresEdu), Jason Bretzmann(jbretzmann), and Mandy Taylor(mandymtaylor).  So many great things came out of this session.  One being getting a picture with TechNinjaTodd!

All 4 educators were adamant about giving teachers choice in their professional development 
And that even if only 5 teachers attend a session, that is 5 more teachers that know about a tool.  That is growth.

TabScissors - this was not technically in a session, but it is one of the best things I learned about!  Before her Google VR session, Kelly Fitzgerald was asking people about things they had learned so far and she shared the chrome extension TabScissors.  This extension allows you to split a window into two smaller windows side-by-side!

Here I have 3 tabs and have to toggle back and forth. 

But by using TABSCISSORS, I can split the tabs and have two windows showing at the same time. 

This is life changing!!  

And one more fun thing.  Have you heard of Bitmoji?
It is an app and a chrome extension that allows you to create your own personalized emoji chatacter. Now besides annoying the people that you text...

which is super fun in itself, but how fun to put them on work that your students are working on in google docs?  Kind of like your own personal stickers... and what kid doesn't love getting stickers?

I always learn so much going to these conferences.  Too much to actually post about in one blog. I will write more as I put the tools into practice or share them with teachers.